The Defense Budget in France: Between Denial and Decline

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Series Details Number 36 bis
Publication Date December 2012
ISBN 978-2-36567-113-2
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Although defense spending is the fourth budget item in France, it is rarely a matter of public debate. During the past three decades, defense has been affected in turn by the desire to rip the benefit of the post-Cold War “peace dividend”, the professionalization of 1997, and the increase of overseas operations after September 11, 2001.

These fluctuations occurred in a constrained economic and social context, in which military spending has played the role of the expandable line - irrespective of the majority in power. Even if the new budgetary framework set up by the LOLF (Organic Law relating to the Finance Laws) was supposed to improve spending management, the goals of the 2008 White Paper on Security and Defense quickly emerged as unrealistic, given the rapid deterioration of public finance. After a decade of continuous growth of international military spending, it seems appropriate to examine and question the budgetary choices that will decide of the future of French defense capabilities

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